I welcomed a daughter-in-love last month. She is the love of my son’s life, and I couldn’t have picked a better woman for him.
After they got engaged last Christmas, my new daughter and I shared some interesting conversations about wedding rings. She’d read that the wedding ring is supposed to go first on your finger, then you slip the engagement ring back afterward, so she was wondering when or if she was supposed to switch her engagement ring to her right hand before putting it back to her left ring on top of her wedding ring.
I’ll admit staring a bit weirdly at her, only because I had never heard of wearing the wedding ring first. When I got married thirty-eight years ago, there was no Internet. New couples basically followed the traditions set by their parents/grandparents. My mother and my grandmothers wore their engagement rings next to their knuckles, then when they got married, their husbands slipped their wedding bands on top. There was no taking rings off or switching hands. It was simple and straightforward.
So, I did some research on the Internet about wedding rings, and stumbled on some very unusual ones along the way.
The first wedding rings are believed to date back to ancient Egypt, some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. Egyptians wore their rings on the fourth finger of the left hand, believing that a vein from that finger led directly to the heart. The Romans call this the “vena amoris”, or “vein of love”.
The early Asian civilizations were certainly not as romantic as the Romans. Weddings were seen as a legal contract between a man and a woman, and the wedding rings were considered a physical representation of that binding contract. Therefore,couples would seal their marriage with puzzle wedding rings which would immediately fall apart if they tried to remove them from their fingers.
Wearing your wedding ring on the left hand is not a global tradition, mainly for one of these two reasons:
- The word left is derived from the Latin word meaning sinister. Therefore, wearing it on the left hand is considered unlucky or evil.
- In the Bible it was the practice to wear rings on the right hand, the hand of authority and power, completing the pledge of commitment.
This holds true in countries like Russia, Poland, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Latvia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and India.
Interestingly enough, in Sweden and Chile, it is not just brides-to-be that receive engagement rings, men wear them too.
In many cultures, it was traditional for only the woman to wear a wedding ring, but it changed during World War II. Many servicemen began wearing their wedding rings as a sign of commitment and as a way to remember their wives while stationed overseas.
As far as which ring should come first? My new daughter was right about most traditions favoring the wedding ring, but it is also not uncommon to stack them starting with the first one that was received. So, like me, she is wearing her wedding ring on top of her engagement ring.
Happy Reading & Stay Safe